The Nissan Juke caused a stir when it arrived in 2010 with its unconventional styling, but it’s won the hearts and minds of UK buyers in droves. It was the second-best selling Nissan after Qashqai
in 2013 and is vital conquest car for the brand: 85% of buyers are new to Nissan. Four years after it arrived, it faces a swathe of copycat rivals in what’s the fastest growing segment in Europe, so it’s been revised to keep the music playing.
What’s been done to Juke for 2014?
The exterior facelift has freshened up the outside, but kept that overall character in place. Nissan says that style is the biggest single factor for buyers, and so it has resisted the temptation to mess with success.
There are new front and rear bumpers, with projector lamps for the lower headlights, striking front and rear LEDs and that chrome ‘V’ in the grille to mimic the new Qashqai and X-Trail as part of the brand’s three-prong attack. There’s also more colour coding, new exterior colour choices, but the in terms of looks, it’s the new customisation that should play a strong role in maintaining its 38,000-odd UK sales momentum from last year.
Tell me about the customisation
Nissan’s followed the likes of Mini, Fiat and the Toyota Aygo
here, but instead of 50-million options to make life a misery for dealers, a al Vauxhall Adam, there’s a mere 300 choices for the new Juke. Outside, that sees optional colour-coded alloys, door handles and side skirts, as well as coloured rings around the lower headlamps.
Inside, you'll find a body-coloured plastic console shrouds, air-vent surrounds and gear lever. Buyers can choose some or all of it, and while we find the yellow vile, it’s more tasteful in the dark blue – but each to their own, which is the entire point. There’s also now an optional glass roof for a more airier feel.
Has the cabin been redesigned?
No – and it still looks rubbish. It feels a little old, but mainly cheap. The materials, surfaces and design of the instruments, for instance, all scream built to a price, and while the operation of all the switchgear is fine, it looks tacky. Visibility is good, but this car is clearly not a premium or an extravagance: its style outside is not translated to the inside. Take a Skoda cabin, for instance: dull, but still tasteful.
The boot was always too small in the Juke
Nissan has addressed this by repackaging the boot, even if the Juke is the same physical body and platform as before. There’s now a two-stage flooring system as well as flat-folding rear seats, and the fettling has increased boot capacity impressively from 251 to 354 litres. If you want a bigger boot, buy a Qashqai, says Nissan.
What about engines?
The biggest news is that the 117PS (115bhp) version of the naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine has been dumped: one of the key complaints from current Juke owners has been its relative thirst. So instead, there’s the 113bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that was first launched in the Renault Megane in 2012 and is offered in identical spec in the larger Qashqai
It’s offered only with front-wheel drive here, but is loaded with tech, including direct fuel injection and start/stop. It weighs less than the old engine too.
This is a brilliant unit: it’s responsive, free of cabin vibration and relatively quite, with an accurate, lightweight gearshift from the six-speed manual. The 1.2-litre makes this crossover nimble, chuckable and fun. Its 140lb ft of torque is more than the old 1.6-litres’ 116lb ft, and it’s achieved at 2000rpm – not 4000rpm like before. It helps the Juke drive more like a hatch, not a truck, with steering that’s reasonably precise and body roll that’s predictable and not so wallowy. It feels energetic, spritely, and fun.
While it achieves the goal of less higher efficiency – its 51.4 mpg figure is plays the old 1.6-litre’s 47.1mpg – it needs revs to perform, and could do with more low-down torque.
Any other mechanical changes?
Yes – as well as the new 1.2-litre, the 187bhp 1.6-litre petrol has been give more torque and debuts the X-Tronic Continuously Variable Transmission when optioned with all-wheel drive. In total, there are five engines offered (apart from the Nismo model), with the 93bhp and 115bhp 1.6-litre petrols, as well as the 108bhp diesel, all carried over from the existing model.
There are no chassis changes to make the Juke better to drive. It still has the jiggly ride – another common complaint – but our test on smoother Portugese roads is not a clear indication of how it will perform in the UK, so we’ll hold fire until we drive it here. On foreign soil, it soaked up bumps reasonable but did move around a tad more than we’d like son what were relatively smooth surfaces.
The Juke is one of Nissan’s success stories, and despite the competition, this facelift plays to its strengths – style and price – as well as strengthening its weaknesses – boot size and fuel economy. The customisation offerings also mean that the new Juke won’t look like the 500,000 that’ve been sold since 2010, and that new 1.2-litre engine is a pearler. It’s not the most sophisticated in its class, but the Juke combines it looks, price and drivability like no other.
>> What do you think of the customisation options for the updated Juke - tasteful or tacky? Let us know in the comments section below